3. Not Yet Time
By early winter, Cellinn had taken to either spending her time alone with a book or passing it with her mother and several older ladies of the court, including Queen Eirien, who was well loved by all. And to Cellin's delight, Princess Minuialwen often joined the group.
As the newest member of the King's family and the court, and many centuries younger than the others who met with the Queen, Minuialwen seemed to be as drawn to Cellinn as she felt to the princess. They became fast friends, sharing their joys and sorrows with one exception: The princess's closeness to Legolas kept Cellinn from opening up completely to her new friend, but they had plenty of things in common that they could discuss without speaking of the prince. They shared a love of books, music and sewing, and Minuialwen was teaching her the art of tapestry weaving, something Cellinn found she enjoyed a great deal, so she spent as much time at it as she could.
To her surprise, however, she found that though she spent much time in the princess's chambers, she never ran into Legolas there. She mentioned it once in passing, but Minuialwen waved off her comment with a simple, "Oh, he's not around much. Pouring himself into preparation for the Warrior Trials."
Cellinn felt an unsettling relief that Legolas was not spending his time with Ninglorwen, but she brushed aside the feeling and tried to focus on other things.
Legolas walked down the hall with Arandur and Dúrion towards his brother's private chambers. They had spent the morning sparring and discussing battle tactics. He was grateful for their help. Before he could join the Home Guard, he would first have to be accepted into training, and that required quite a bit of knowledge beforehand. Saelvathor demanded much, especially from the young princes. He would not be held responsible for them being injured, so they had to prove their readiness to join the trainees.
Arandur had passed, but only barely so. He was now almost finished with his training and would soon join the forces in the Home Guard, spending many years patrolling close to the king's halls before being allowed to transfer to the Border Patrol. Even though times were peaceful, Saelvathor and Thranduil would not take risks with the safety of the people in the realm. They had lost too much at Dagorlad; a strict patrol and guard were maintained.
Legolas would not be allowed to undergo the Warrior Trials until he turned fifty-five — not for another two and a half years. He was determined that during that time, he would make himself more than ready. And if he passed, he would then spend many years perfecting his fighting techniques as well as learning tracking and survival skills. Once training was completed, he would be allowed to join the Home Guard and take his place among the warriors of the realm. He greatly desired to learn to protect his realm and people, and was thankful his father allowed it. With all the losses Thranduil had sustained during the war, especially the deaths of his brothers and Oropher, Legolas had at one time feared Thranduil would insist upon him learning diplomacy and make him sit at court with the stuffy old advisors such as Ninglorwen's father, Lammaeg. He thanked the Star Kindler that he was not the First Heir and thus would be able to escape much of what Arandur could not. While Arandur was allowed to join the Guard, he also had to spend much time in chambers. The thought made Legolas cringe.
Now, the three of them were looking forward to enjoying some of Minuialwen's sweet cakes and tea. The lady was a wonderful baker and always had such delicious treats on hand. But after they entered Arandur's quarters, bright feminine laughter came from the princess's sewing room. Legolas recognized one of the laughs as Cellinn's and pain flared in his chest. He would like to stay with his brother and friend, and possibly be able to speak with her, but he knew he was not ready, and would say something stupid and cause her to despise him even more. So, he gave his older brother a knowing look, thought up an excuse, and departed before they entered the room where the ladies worked and chatted.
Cellinn, seated beside her friend, watched closely as Minuialwen wove the intricate pattern on a new tapestry. Both were so engrossed with what they were doing that neither heard the door to the room open, nor were they aware of the new arrivals until Minuialwen shrieked and jumped when a pair of arms encircled her and a body pressed against her back. Cellinn, startled by her friend's reaction, laughed when Arandur turned his wife in his arms and kissed her. They were so obviously in love, and she watched them with wistful eyes. She had not felt any romantic inclinations before, and the sudden longing took her a bit by surprise.
Suddenly, the feeling that she was being watched caused her to tense in alarm. Had Arandur not come in alone? Ignoring the couple, who were absorbed in themselves, she felt her heart pound, fearful that Legolas had accompanied his brother. She hesitated, but could not stop herself from turning to see just who bored holes in her back with his intense gaze. Relief poured over her, however, when it turned out to be only Dúrion, one of Arandur's friends. Handsome enough, she supposed, but he would never compare to Legolas.
Stunned at her thought, she smiled stiffly at Dúrion and turned back around. Staring ahead, but seeing nothing, Cellinn puzzled over why she would compare Dúrion to Legolas. It irritated her that the prince could still affect her so much, though she had not spoken to him in almost half a year, not since that day in the garden when she had told him she wished to end their friendship.
Feeling very uncomfortable, Cellinn decided she needed some time alone. "Minuialwen?"
The princess separated herself from her husband's arms long enough to look at her.
"If you do not mind, I am going to call it a day. I wish to catch up on some reading this afternoon. Perhaps, we can work on this some more tomorrow?" Cellinn smiled at the other lady, knowing Minuialwen would not object to spending time with her husband.
"Go ahead, dear. I can put these things away. Enjoy yourself!" Minuialwen waved her out of the room, and Cellinn bid them all a good day.
She could not help but feel she was fleeing. She did not like the feelings that Dúrion's gaze had raised in her, nor did she wish to dwell on why her thoughts had turned once again to Legolas. She had not seen him in weeks, despite her time spent with his family. And the few times she had seen him, he only stiffened and turned away.
Forcing her thoughts elsewhere, Cellinn shoved her confusion and hurt aside for a time. Curling up on her bed, she lost herself in a book. For once, she had chosen a romance, rather than a historical account, and to her chagrin, she found herself enjoying it.
Filled with melancholy, Legolas walked away from his brother's chambers, deciding to spend some time outside. He had to sidetrack down a darkened corridor to avoid Ninglorwen at one point. The lady had not given up her pursuit, becoming bolder in her advances. He found it harder and harder to avoid her. She simply would not take the hint that he held no interest in her. Hint? He snorted. He had flat out told her to leave him be!
Once he was certain he had thrown the irritating lady off his track, he made his way to his room, grabbed his cloak and gloves, and headed towards the trees covered in a deep blanket of fluffy snow.
He would not go to theirtree. He had found another oak that accepted his company from time to time, and he sat long on a wide branch, thinking to himself, and wondering when he would be able to approach Cellinn. He hoped somehow, if nothing else, that their friendship would be restored, though deep in his heart he longed for much more. She was his. Her beautiful blue eyes haunted his dreams, and how he longed to run his fingers through the burnished, mahogany locks of her hair. To see her smile at him or laugh at one of his jests would bring great joy to his heart. But it was not yet time.
Taking a shaky breath, Legolas tried to turn his thoughts to other things. He tried to review the new concepts his brother had taught him, but he found he could not think of anything but her. Shaking his head to clear it, he sat upright, turning his head towards the creek as a noise caught his attention.
There! He heard it again. A soft whimpering drifted up to him.
He leapt from the tree and ran towards the frozen stream cutting through the forest, his feet leaving scarcely a mark on top of the soft snow. As he drew closer, the whimpers became cries. It was a hurt animal. Legolas's sharp eyes scanned the area, looking for any sign of it. He had quite a reputation with animals. As a child, he often would befriend small creatures and bring them home, but never would his parents let him keep them. Wild creatures were meant to remain wild, they said. Then one day, he had found an injured fawn; its leg had been broken when it stepped into a deep hole in the ground caused by some burrowing animal. He had searched for the doe, but she was nowhere to be found. Knowing that if he left the small deer, it could be killed by wolves or other predators, he had scooped it up and brought it home.
That time, his parents could not protest his keeping the animal, for it would not survive without great care. With the help of the head healer, Istuion, the fawn's leg had been set and the small deer had recovered, becoming too dependent to be set free. Thus had begun Legolas's wildlife rescues, and there had been many creatures over the years: squirrels, deer, rabbits, an owl…many were restored under his vigilant care, often with the aid of a blue-eyed, mahogany-haired helper.
Movement caught Legolas's eye, and he moved to it. At the base of a tree amongst the dark roots, lay a small creature not much bigger than his hand. Kneeling down, he touched it lightly, turning it and discovering it was a wolf cub, perhaps three weeks old. The pup was thin and shivering as it whimpered and cried out. Standing up, Legolas looked around for any sign of a pack. Wolves often came this close to the halls in winter, looking for scraps and easier hunting when the snow fell deep. They were not evil, just creatures of the forest not much different than the foxes or hawks who hunted the woods. But there was no sign of the parents or a pack; in fact, there were no new tracks in the snow. The cub would not have been abandoned; wolves did not abandon their young, even if food was in short supply. The pup should have been in a den with a member of the pack watching over it.
Kneeling, he lifted the small form, wrapping it in part of his cloak. It whimpered again, shaking and shivering. That was when Legolas noticed the blood. The tiny creature must have been taken from the wolf's den. By the looks of the bloody marks on the pup, it had fallen from a bird of prey's clutches. The wounds were not deep or life threatening, but the small creature needed warmth and care. And Legolas worried about internal injuries if the pup had fallen from a significant height.
Realizing time could not be wasted, Legolas turned and ran back to the halls, rushing to the healing rooms and Istuion.
An hour later, Legolas sighed in relief as the small cub suckled greedily on a homemade bottle made from a shaped piece of doeskin tied to the neck of a small water skin filled with warmed milk. Squeaking sounds came from the pup as she drank. He grinned. "Well, little one, I guess you need a name. What do we call a pretty little girl like you?" he asked the pup.
"She's going to be big, my prince. Look at her feet!" Istuion pointed to the paws pushing alternately against Legolas's hand, the same as she would do nursing from her mother. Legolas thought they were tiny, but he had never seen a wolf this age before. "Have you raised a wolf before, Istuion?" he asked, looking up.
The healer shook his head. "No, but I have raised enough hounds in my time to know that this little girl will not be little for long!"
"Then she will need a name that suits her frame and her status. As the newest member of the king's family, I name her Draugris, Queen of wolves."
The tiny queen yawned, unimpressed with her new name. Legolas laughed and lifted her up against his chest where she cuddled against him and fell asleep.
To Be Continued...
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.